While I adore getting out on our tandem on any kind of usable railtrail, I have a real soft spot for trails that offer water views.
When we visited the Westville Dam property, officially in Southbridge, but really on the edge of Southbridge and Sturbridge, MA, we found a short portion of the Titanic Railtrail that travels alongside the Quineboag River.
We were able to make a loop by traveling on the south side of the river down an Army Corps service road and came out onto River Road, a quiet side road with little traffic. We headed north less than a half mile to a yellow trail gate on the right, which got us onto the north side of the river to loop back onto the Grand Trunk Trail.
The track from River Road onto the Grand Trunk Railtrail is quite rough, a narrow footpath filled with rocks and poison ivy.
But there is a bridge, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, that crosses the river and gets you onto a nicely developed section of the Grand trunk railtrail.
The north side of the river provides views from on high–the steep embankment is daunting to climb down, but offers pretty views of the river.
The south side of the river is not actually part of the Grand trunk trail, simply a service road, but provides easy access to the river for fishing, picnicing, swimming, or just sitting and watching the river.
This time of year, mid summer, in a year of plenty of rain, the river is pretty high, with lovely rapids in certain sections.
Closer to the Westville Dam the water is calm, more inviting for kayakers and canoers.
The dam impoundment area itself is in full sun,
and offers some nice views of the river and the rock cuts that created the dam.
The trails along the river offered plenty of shade, and while there were a number of people in the area, we saw only a handful of people walking the trails while we were there. We met some Army Corps volunteers along the trail, retired folks who camp at the property all summer, in return for patrolling the trails, keeping an eye on things,and being available to help out for whatever is needed. We had no idea of this option for volunteering, but it’s something we will keep in mind for the future. For more information, check out the Army Corps of Engineers’ website about this wonderful spot. http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/Westville-Lake/
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then.